Daylight Saving Time ends Nov. 7, sleep expert shares how to maximize the extra hour

Twice per year our nation’s sleep is upended by the change to and from Daylight Saving Time. The next scheduled disruption is on Nov. 7, when at 2 am the time rolls back an hour to 1 am ending Daylight Saving Time and returning to Standard Time — which is good news for our health.

“We all tend to get better rest on Standard Time, which is a more natural fit for our circadian rhythm,” said Amit Khanna, MD, medical director, Sleep Center, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. “Sleep is critical to our basic functioning such as memory, concentration and focus. It isn’t surprising that any change to our sleep routine impacts us at an individual and population level.” 

In fact, in 2019, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released a statement saying public health and safety would benefit from eliminating Daylight Saving Time. A research paper that looked at car accidents over two decades found that fatal crashes rose by six percent during the first week of DST.  Additionally, cluster headaches, cardiovascular events, depression and even stock market volatility have all been linked to losing that hour. 

Dr. Khanna shares how to leverage the return to Standard Time to enhance overall wellness. 

Make your sleep routine a priority

“If sleep were marketed as a supplement that could combat weight gain, boost immunity, and improve intelligence and social interactions — it would be wildly popular,” said Dr. Khanna.  “Sleep is an easy corner to cut, but lack of sleep is linked to many chronic diseases. Getting the right amount for your individual need is absolutely health-enhancing.”

Dr. Khanna says if you are reaching for caffeine several times during the day or, when given the chance, sleep-in an hour past your normal wake-up time, these are signs you are in a sleep deficit. 

Routine is key

Dr. Khanna recommends keeping a regular schedule for sleep and wake and not deviating more than an hour. When trying to adjust the routine, he recommends doing it in 30 minute increments. 

Keeping dinner at a consistent time and avoiding caffeine and alcohol at least four hours before bedtime can also be conducive to good sleep. 

Lighting the way 

“Natural sunlight exposure helps train our internal clocks and can enhance wakefulness during the day and sharpen our sleep drive at night,” said Dr. Khanna. 

Additionally, Dr. Khanna recommends limiting screen time within a couple of hours before bed.

“If you find yourself sensitive to blue light—which stimulates our eyes and has more of an impact on circadian rhythm than other types of light, you might consider blue light glasses.”

Creating a sleep sanctuary

“If you are lying in bed for 20 minutes struggling, leave the room and do something relaxing like reading and make sure the light is coming from behind you not in front of you.” 

Dr. Khanna says reserving the bedroom for sleep and sex strengthens the mental association between bed and sleep and can help you get a deeper sleep faster.